Hay said it’s the first time the county has agreed to more than a two-year contract with the union that represents the county’s child welfare workers who handle abuse and neglect cases for some 2,000 children.
“This was like in record-breaking time that we got this one done, and a three-year contract,” she said. “It’s just unheard of.”
Hay said the demands of the job and the coronavirus pandemic have left the ranks of caseworkers depleted, but the county has promised to step up hiring. The Professionals Guild of Ohio represents about 270 bargaining unit positions, but as many as 50 are open, she said.
“You’ve got to keep the positions filled because that’s the meat and potatoes of what we do,” she said. “Those are the people who go out knocking on the doors keeping the kids safe.”
Children Services has the clearance to fill 17 positions and is working on securing more, according to a county spokesperson.
Last September, the sides came to agreement on a contentious wage reopener, but not before the union called a strike, which was met by the county filing for injunctive relief and a judge ordering workers back to their jobs. Eligible employees eventually received a 4.5% raise and others eligible at the top or above their pay scales received that percentage as a lump sum.
Hay said with the financial pressure put on the county by the coronavirus pandemic, the union agreed to no wage increase in the first year of the new 2020-2023 bargaining agreement retroactive to April 1.
PGO members will receive a $750 lump sum signing bonus for 2020, a 1% pay increase in 2021, and a 2% increase in 2022. It also increases tuition reimbursement from $2,300 to $3,500 per year, along with expanding bereavement leave to include aunts and uncles.
According to the county, changes were incorporated into the after-hours worker policy to help ensure more effective operations and management rights were enhanced for disciplinary issues and investigations.
Children Services workers will receive a 1% raise in the second year and 2% in the final year, she said.
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said the new bargaining agreement coupled with a new strategic plan in the works will result in an improved Children Services.
“It takes a team. We have to do this as a partnership,” he said. “This puts us in a great position to really move this agency forward.”